Boils are skin abscesses that can develop for a number of reasons but common culprits are an ingrown hair and plugged sweat glands (armpits and groin area especially). They start out somewhat sore when touched but if allowed to flourish, they will continue to swell in size and become extremely painful…some can grow to the size of an egg!
At first glance you might mistake it for a pimple but until it comes to a head, you’ll find it very, very painful to touch and no matter how much you squeeze it (if you can tolerate the pain), very little (if any) pus will expel.
The best way to get rid of one is to start treatment as soon as you notice it forming (can feel like a tender, sore lump when first developing). If they become extremely large, soft and ready to expel, they’re better tackled by a doctor who will lance it, drain it, pack it and send you on your way with a prescription for penicillin or antibacterial cream.
Side Note: You might recall scenes in historical based movies of nuns heating small glass globes or jars then applying them to a poor soul’s body. This actually was something done for boils, the heat inside the glass would create a vacuum when openings were stuck on the skin which would then draw out the infection. Imagine how painful that was! The good news is, it’s pretty easy to take care of things yourself with a lot less fuss.
Help fight the infection by soaking in a hot bath with Epsom salts (keeping the afflicted part under water). You can also apply warm packs or cloths. The heat increases circulation and encourages your body to focus on that spot and attack the infection. Do this a couple times a day and you should see results quickly. Keep it up until the boil has completely gone. If handled promptly, there will be no pus to drain since your body will take care of it.
If things are too far gone and you want to bring it to a head (ripen it) so it will soften and erupt, here’s what you can do (continue heat treatments as directed above):
- Saturate a bandaid pad with a few drops of tea tree oil then cover abscess.
- Regularly soak in lavender water (scroll down page for recipes). Can also use as a compress.
- Slather honey over the spot.
- Apply a fresh sliced tomato or tomato paste on top of it. The acid from the fruit will help soothe and ripen quicker.
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice, drizzle over top or soak a cotton ball with it and bandage in place. Same idea as above.
- Poultice: 1 TBS alum + 2 oz fresh tomato juice. Mix together then apply, covering completely. Wrap with cheesecloth, remove after 15 minutes and wash off.
- Regularly slather on garlic oil (instructions found on bottom of page) to hasten things along.
Old Wives Remedies:
- Completely cover it with a piece of fatty bacon (raw), bandage in place and leave on overnight.
- The crusty heel from a stale loaf of bread is soaked in hot milk then placed on the abscess and bandaged in place. Do several times a day until ripened.
It will be ready to open up with little pressure when the top softens and you see a yellow pus dot in the center (just like with a pimple). Once it opens up to drain, the relief will be instant and almost overwhelming. There will be a lot of fluid draining…you’ll be surprised at the amount! Keep the surrounding skin as clean as possible and disinfect regularly. Cover wound with a sterilized bandage.
- If you notice reddening or red streaking around the boil or patient is feverish or experiences chills (before or after eruption), seek professional medical care.
- People with diabetes and weakened immune systems should have a doctor handle this.
- Remember that you’re dealing with a bacterial infection (staph), wash hands well before and after treatment. Once draining starts, wearing latex gloves while cleaning it up is a good idea.
- If you have a cluster of them, these are called carbuncles and should be looked at by a doctor.
Please Note: These are simply notes I have collected, they are not professional medical advice.